It’s as well that Arsenal players are flexible in the roles they can play in the team. Maybe Lansbury’s 30 minute stint last night between the sticks for England U21’s in their match against Germany following the dismissal of substitute keeper Jason Steele was one of the more extreme examples though.
I wonder how adaptable Robin van Persie might need to be to get back into the Dutch national team after Huntelaar took the opportunity his absence to score 8 times in 4 games? Dutch coach van Marjwijk seems determined that Robin is included if he’s fit enough saying earlier this week ‘Robin can play different positions. On the right, inside left or in a two striker system. In all these positions he can perform at the highest level. He will not just be left behind.’
Using him as the lone striker at Arsenal for the early part of last season prior to his injury on international duty van Persie surprised some with the success he’d enjoyed in a role that many felt he was not best suited to. The team suffered in consequence in his absence as injuries at different times to Bendtner and Eduardo forced us to play with other forward permutations none of which proved quite as convincing as it had earlier in the season with Robin place. But just as Huntelaar seems to have more than successfully replaced Robin’s role in the national team our recruitment of Chamakh this summer seems for the time being to have given us a central striker option that suits the team equally well.
Robin doesn’t see himself necessarily limited to the central striker role though, telling Dutch reporters that he believes his career so far has shown that he is adaptable ‘I am an attacker. I’ve played outside left, then behind the striker, under Van Basten on right, over the last year I’ve played as the striker. The challenges were there through all the stages of my career. I want to attack, let’s keep it there’
Whether or where he`ll play van Marwijk has still to decide but Robin says that Wenger has overcome his initial concerns as to whether he should play at all against Turkey. ‘He is afraid that something is happening, but it can happen anywhere.’ The Dutch forward said ‘Yet he is happy now that I’m here’ later adding that Wenger was really only concerned when he felt it was too early to make a judgement ‘But now I have two weeks full training. I have spoken with Wenger. He is convinced.’
For now he is happy to be back in training, so much so that he delayed the national teams departure from their training ground as he insisted on continuing after the session had ended, but he is desperate to play ‘Training is great, four against four, five against five, as before on the square. I look forward to Wednesday’s game’ he told the Dutch press ‘I was not bored,’ adding “But I cannot get enough football.’
His injury record places doubt about the extent to which Arsenal can build their play around van Persie though he is such a rare and elaborately talented player that fellow countryman Marco van Basten in deciding how to include him once declared that he was simply too good a player to leave out. That maybe something of the dilemma that a fully fit van Persie will give Wenger. There have been times this season where the team has cried out for someone with the ability to create a chance for himself and Robin certainly has that quality in abundance.
Whether he can reprise the form he showed as a lone striker in the early part of last season or whether Chamakhs form allows him the opportunity remains to be seen. For now, with Bendtner also impatient to play a role, if Robin gets the opportunity to impress against Turkey, Wenger will either have the luxury of too many quality strikers to pick from, or with Chamakh and Bendtner also on national duty tonight, the more familiar problem in recent times of having to play whoever comes back uninjured.
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